What Were You Doing 3287 Days Ago?

Nine years ago (the aforementioned 3287 days) I published my first blog post: Did you Get the H1N1 Flu Shot in 2009. It was not highly successful and has been viewed a grand total of 13 times. At the other end of the scale,  Tricky Questions – Thinking Outside the Box has been quite popular with over 36,000 views. Go figure…

That’s the interesting thing about blogging. While I might have a general idea what my readers might find interesting or when it is a good time to catch them in a reading mood, I  have no idea how the Search Engines will promote or trash my posts! I do know this involves algorithms that judge, filter, penalize and reward content, but that is about the extent of my understanding!

While the stats for the Tricky Questions post are fascinating to watch,  I like the H1N1 post as much and I love the process of researching and writing.  I’m happy with my blog as a whole –  a scrapbook of my photos, thoughts and ideas – my Codex Vitae.

I think the pleasure of completed work is what makes blogging so popular. You have to believe most bloggers have few if any actual readers. The writers are in it for other reasons. Blogging is like work, but without coworkers thwarting you at every turn. All you get is the pleasure of a completed task.
– Scott Adams –

I’ve mapped out a plan for the next year of blogging at Fueled by Chocolate (because 9 years of blogging won’t be as newsworthy as 10 years of blogging!) I’m bringing over all my quotation posts from The Quippery and will roll them out, two every week, for the next six months. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I’ve enjoyed collecting them.

Old words are reborn with new faces.
– Criss Jami, Killosophy –

My Birds and Bugs blog, Chirps and Buzzes, will get an injection of new material too – I’ve got a lot of photos that are patiently waiting to be edited and uploaded and I want that blog to be a record of my ‘backyard’ birding and buzzing life lists.

When you have seen one ant, one bird, one tree, you have not seen them all.
– E. O. Wilson –

My newest blog is Right Side Up – a Conservative exploration of topics that include politics, the environment, media bias, free speech – but also the exciting possibility of a return to civil discourse!

The reason that free speech is so important… It keeps the balance between those two tendencies. You need the questioning, and you need the order. You think, “how much of each?” The answer is, “the recipe changes day to day.” And so you think, “well, if it changes day to day, how are we going to keep up?” The answer is, “by keeping up! Here we are. We’re alive. We can keep up, but we do that by thinking, and we think by talking, and we think and talk by disagreeing. And we better disagree conceptually, because then we don’t have to act out stupid ideas that would kill us.”
– Jordan Peterson, Oxford Union Address –

What were you doing 3287 days ago? What was the most popular post you have ever written? Which of your posts is your favourite?

Satire, Fake News and Bias

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A recent piece of satire from The Out And Abouter is called Concerned, But Not Wanting To Offend, Canada Quietly Plants Privacy Hedge Along Entire U.S. Border.

And we’re happy to pay for it,” say a united front of Canadian premiers, national leaders, mayors, citizens, and casual acquaintances, of the newly planted hedge that has sprung up seemingly overnight, running unbroken for 6,416 kilometers, along the world’s longest undefended border.
– The Out and Abouter, January 2017 –

Snopes, the fact checking site, has clarified that the story is False but points out that the Author of the site clearly states that he/she writes Satirical Commentary.

The Message from the Queen – Revoking American Independence was satire too, though the name of the original author remains elusive.

…the aim of satire shouldn’t be about fooling people; it should be about making them laugh. “We’re always looking at our headlines and thinking, ‘Could someone actually believe this?’” he says. “And if it does [seem believable], then we haven’t done our job properly.”
– Rhodri Marsden, Independent, July 2015 –

Worldnewsdailyreport.com is a bit different duck, in that it looks like a real news site. You have to read their entire disclaimer (on a separate page) to discover the fictional nature of the content. The headline “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is getting prepared to accommodate nearly 250,000 American refugees if Donald Trump is to be elected US president in November” is entirely fictional.

(The ‘immigration truth’ is – Canada accepted the most Americans during the Vietnam war (it is estimated that more than 400,000 Americans took up Canadian residency between 1968 and 1978).

CNBC,  in a round-up of Fake News Stories in 2016, pointed to these untrue headlines: “Pope Francis Endorses Donald Trump for President” and “Ireland is now officially accepting Trump refugees from America”. Politifact determined that this story was false: “Thousands of people at a Donald Trump rally in Manhattan chanted, “We hate Muslims, we hate blacks, we want our great country back.”

Of course, Donald Trump himself was the source of many falsehoods, most of which he repeatedly refused to be embarrassed about. He knew that his most ardent supporters would accept him, and understand him – in the same way they would support a friend who sometimes says things without having facts to back up what they are saying. (Politifact and other fact checking sites  have lists of falsehoods made by Barack Obama, Donald Trump and other politicians.)

Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has undoubtedly uttered a few falsehoods too, though it is hard to classify what his sweet-sounding praise of Fidel Castro was, or how his government tripled the projected deficit once in power…

But if we’ve come to expect and even joke about office-seekers who seem truth averse (“How do you know a politician is lying? His lips are moving”), many of us have given little thought to our own fibs and to how they compare with politicians’ deceits. What if PolitiFact looked at what we say to our spouses, friends and bosses?
– New York Post, April 2016 –

Here in Canada, Federal politicians are investigating ‘false news’ as part of a broader study by the Federal Heritage Committee into the impact of digital technology on journalism. While various sections of Canada’s CRTC regulations prohibit the broadcasting of “false or misleading news” by radio and television licensees, it obviously can’t control or regulate news that is broadcast from the USA or is delivered through the internet.

So if you spot someone sharing something that you know is outlandish, strike a blow for truth and let them know. But be nice about it. After all, we’ve all had our moments of gullibility, and we certainly haven’t had our last.
– Rhodri Marsden, Independent, July 2015 –

How do we, as citizens of our respective countries, respond to this web of falsehoods? Some people speak or write mean, spiteful, horrid things about President Trump, his family, and other politicians. Does that achieve anything? If you have ridiculed, shamed, hated, scorned, or belittled someone, does that make you a better person than they are?

But every time someone quips like Donald Trump does…they reveal a streak of that same character in themselves. You tumble closer to the bottom of the pit where Trump resides. And by signaling your comfort in saying it, you give tacit permission to others to do the same. Quickly, we all find ourselves lower than before.
– Nate Hopper, Time, October 2016 –

There are many ways to express your opinions without being abusive. First, though, you should make sure your opinions are NOT based on, or propped up by Fake News.

How do you fact check? Do you know which news outlets are satirical, which ones are make up fake stories, which ones have strong bias either left or right?

 

All the Best of The Universal Laws

ToonadayHow many of these Universal Laws do you have first hand experience with?

A closed mouth gathers no feet.
– Finster’s Law –

A good education is the next-best thing to a pushy mother.
– Charles M. Schulz

Always borrow from a pessimist – he doesn’t expect to get it back.
– Simpson’s Rule Of Pecuniary Advancement –

Assumption is the mother of all screw-ups.
– Wethern’s Law –

A man with a watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches is never sure.
– Segal’s Law –

Complex problems have simple, easy to understand wrong answers.
– Grossman’s Law –

Do not place your coffee next to the cup you clean your brushes in.
– Painter’s 2nd Law of Watercolors –

Experience teaches you to recognize a mistake when you’ve made it again.
– Holbrook’s Other Law (Russel & Crawford) –

For every problem there is one solution which is simple, neat and wrong.
– H.L. Mencken –

Friendly fire isn’t.
– Murphy’s Second Military Law –

He who deliberates fully before taking a step will spend his entire life on one leg.
– Chinese Proverb –

Hot glass looks the same as cold glass.
– Dominic Cirino’s Law of Burnt Fingers –

If you need four screws for the job, the first three are easy to find.
– The N-1 Law –

If at first you don’t succeed, read the manual.
– Montgomery’s Maxim –

If you have always done it that way, it is probably wrong.
– Charles Kettering –

In approaching a double door, you will always go to the one door that is locked, pull when you should have pushed, and push when the sign says pull.
– Ehre’s Double-Door Law –

In order for something to become clean, something else must become dirty.
– Imbesi’s Law –
…but you can get everything dirty without getting anything clean.
– Freeman’s Extension –

Inside every small problem is a large problem struggling to get out.
– Second Law of Blissful Ignorance or Hoare’s Law of Large Problems –

It works better if you plug it in.
– Sattinger’s Law –

In any organization, there will always be one person who knows what is going on. This person must be fired.
– Conway’s Law –

It is easier to get forgiveness than permission.
– Stewart’s Law of Retroaction –

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.
– Hanlon’s Razor –

Nothing is impossible for the man who doesn’t have to do it himself.
– Joe’s Law –

Once you open a can of worms, the only way to recan them is to use a bigger can.
– Zymurgy’s First Law of Systems Dynamics –

Shredded cabbage goes great with shredded carrots and mayonnaise.
– Cole’s Law –

The chance of the bread falling with the buttered side down is directly proportional to the cost of the carpet.
– Jennings Corollary to the Law of Selective Gravity –

The first place to look for anything is the last place you would expect to find it.
– Law of the Search –

The trouble with resisting temptation is it may never come your way again.
– Korman’s Law –

The most important leg of a three legged stool is the one that’s missing.
– Lyall’s Fundamental Observation –

The one that snores always falls asleep first.
– Bedfellow’s Law –

The only things that start on time are those that you’re late for.
– Cayo’s Law –

The other line moves faster.
– Etorre’s Observation –

That quantity which, when multiplied by, divided by, added to or subtracted from the answer you get, gives you the answer you should have gotten.
– Skinner’s Constant –

Whatever hits the fan will not be evenly distributed
– Law of Probable Dispersal –

When in doubt, mumble.
-Boren’s First Law –

When you need to knock on wood is when you realize that the world is composed of vinyl, naugahyde and aluminum.
– Flugg’s Law –

Whoever has the gold makes the rules.
– The Golden Rule of Arts and Sciences –

You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you Can’t Fool Mom.
– Captain Penny’s Law –

More Puns – What These Words Can Also Mean!

thinking hatCan you look deep inside a word and find another meaning?

ABASEMENT: Where the furnace is located.

ABDICATE: to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.

AFTERMATH: Relaxation after algebra class.

ALARMS: What an octopus is.

ARBITRATOR: A cook that leaves Arby’s to work at McDonalds

AVOIDABLE: What the bullfighter tried to do.

BALDERDASH: A rapidly receding hairline.

BARIUM: What the undertaker usually does.

BAROQUE: When I spend more than I make.

BERNADETTE: The act of torching a mortgage.

BUCCANEER: The price of a cob of corn.

BURGLARIZE: What a crook sees with.

CANTALOUPE: When you can’t run off and get married.

CARNATION: Place where every citizen owns an automobile.

CATALOGS: Material used to build cow fences.

CAUTERIZE: Made eye contact with a woman.

COFFEE: The person you coughed on.

COLANDER: Someone who arrives on the same plane as you did.

COUNTERFEITERS: Workers who put together kitchen countertops.

CYTOLOGY: The study of real estate.

DIPLOMA: Da’ man who fixes da’ pipes

DOCKYARD: A physician’s garden.

ECLIPSE: What a barber does.

FLATULENCE: Emergency vehicle that picks you up after you have been run over by a steamroller.

HAMLET: A small pig

HEROES: What a guy in a row boat does.

KHAKIS: What you need to start the car in Boston.

LEFTBANK: What the robber did when his bag was full of money.

MEDIEVAL: Not totally wicked.

MISTY: How golfers create divots.

MYTH: A female moth.

NEGLIGENT: describes a condition in which you absentmindedly answer the door in your nightgown.

NITRATES: Opposite of day rates.

OCTOPUS: A cat with eight legs.

PARADOX: Two physicians.

PASTEURIZE: Too far to see.

PHARMACIST: A helper on the farm.

POLYGON: A dead parrot.

POSTOPERATIVE: The letter carrier.

PRIMATE: Removing your spouse from in front of the TV.

PROPAGANDA: A gentlemanly goose.

RELIEF: What trees do in the spring.

RUBBERNECK: What you do to relax your wife.

SEAMSTRESS: What happens to your pants when you eat too much.

SELFISH: What the owner of a seafood store does.

STALEMATE: A leading cause of divorce.

SUDAFED: Brought litigation against a government official.

TOBOGGAN: Why we go to an auction.

URINE: If you haven’t gone out.

How many did you guess? Can you add any?

The Why and What of Vanity Sizing and Metrics

Many years and houses ago – there was an odd looking dog living near us. She was a cross between a basset hound and a shepherd. Her name was Katie. She had short shepherd legs and a broad shouldered basset body; basset ears framed a shepherd muzzle. She was social like a basset and she seemed to have inherited the less than average intelligence of that breed too.

But we soon learned that Katie only understood Chinese. Once we adapted to that, we realized that Katie was actually quite bright. Katie’s short legs, long body and broad shoulders would have caused her no end of grief if she had been a human and had to buy ready made clothing. I know that, because I am a Katie.

My body measurements would be reason enough to hate shopping for clothes, but even more despicable is the world of This Size Fits Nobody and  Vanity Sizing. Presumably on purpose, some manufacturers have changed the cut of their garments so that a women who wore a certain size of garment in high school, can still wear that size years later, even though she has put on 20 pounds and her hourglass figure is now more like a pear or an apple.

Other manufacturers, however, tell it like it is. This means the average grandma like me will visit every women’s clothing store at four malls and will eventually find two pair of pants, one pair of shorts and three shirts – that more or less fit – and they will be either a S or M or L or 10 or 12 or 14. Then she will alter eveything, because no one makes clothing for Katie bodies, and it is too late to hire someone to make these things fit by Monday.

Toonaday dog scalesThe short and the short of it (there is no long in my short world) is that most of the numbers that were once my touchstones, really aren’t all that relevant anymore.  My age, my height, even my weight, have become nonessential numbers in my life… okay, weight might be an essential number, but only if I truly want to do something to change it. If I don’t, then there is no point obsessing about it.

On the internet, social media thrives on vanity. Facebook and Twitter, just to name two, offer users the opportunity to gather friends, likes and or followers. These numbers, though they might look impressive, could be meaningless statistics, which is why they are called Vanity Metrics . This was a phrase coined by author Eric Ries and it refers to measurements that look good, but don’t actually indicate how successful something or someone is.

Here in the WordPress Blogging World, we have a Vanity Metric called ‘Followers’. This number should indicate how many people read our blog in the WordPress RSS feed reader. What it actually  means is how many people read our feed plus how many people don’t read our feed, but hope that by clicking the ‘follow’ button, we will reciprocate – thus boosting their Vanity Metric.

I have  been descended upon by a hoard of Fake Followers. These are people or bots that hope I will click the link to their blog and either buy their product or (and this is the mysterious part) click their link and find an empty blog.  Here are a couple of the more recent ones: Capture I don’t look at my followers list anymore – it is that useless. There might be some legitimate followers in there, but I really don’t have the time to try to find them. For the sake of full disclosure, I now have 956 followers –  and my best guess is that the vast majority of them are not actually readers.

If a measurement matters at all, it is because it must have some conceivable effect on decisions and behavior. If we can’t identify a decision that could be affected by a proposed measurement and how it could change those decisions, then the measurement simply has no value.
– Douglas W. Hubbard –

Now it is your turn – do you have a Vanity Number that makes you feel good, even though it might be just a tad unrealistic?